As a result, punishments could be implemented based on the constitution's Shariah clauses even if they are not passed into law by parliament, such as bans on adultery and bank interest, Borhami said. Abdel-Al agreed on the article's effect.
The charter includes a section on personal rights, including guarantees of freedom of belief, creative and political expression and the press. The section also bans arrests and searches without court order and explicitly forbids torture for the first time. Many of the rights are more firmly worded than past constitutions under Mubarak and his predecessors.
But the section's final article says those rights cannot be implemented in a way contradicting the charter's articles on Shariah and protection of morals -- giving a tool for Islamists to limit the freedoms. "These human rights are now restricted by Article 2," Borhami said.
The charter has a broad clause saying all citizens are equal, but an article specifying women have equal rights to men was dropped amid squabbles over the wording, and the article on children's rights is vague, experts say.
Overall, the draft leaves it unclear who is "the final authority in law and its interpretation -- the elected parliament, the senior clerics or the judiciary," economist and former lawmaker Ziad Baha el-Din wrote in the independent El-Shorouk newspaper Wednesday.
The charter also limits the mandate of the Supreme Constitutional Court, which is seen as one of the strongest opponents of Islamists. Islamists also wrote in a last-minute article shrinking the court to 11 judges, from 18, eliminating its younger members.
That removes some of the fiercest anti-Islamist judges on the body, such as the court's only female judge, Tahani el-Gibali.
Youth activist Mahmoud Salem warned in his blog that "if this constitution is passed, Cairo will truly become Kandahar, with the blessing of the Egyptian president and the Muslim Brotherhood" -- referring to the home city of Afghanistan's Taliban movement.
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